Artists Apart

Two exhibitions in Swansea this weekend: Sarah Poland who has a residency in GS Gallery, and Frances Richards at the Glynn Vivian.


Sarah Poland’s mark making using inks made from oak galls has a zen-like quality. I love how she combines this with photographic images she calls ‘moon-drawings’, made by using a long exposure on full-moon nights in the woods.

Oak Gall Ink – nick-named Ink of poets and Kings – is a very expensive, beautiful, indelible black ink. But for me, the process from start to finish, from gathering the oak galls in an ancient woodland in west Wales, to making the ink, to using it in my work is an important process in the work. At the very least because I can control and play with the viscosity and texture of the material. The work is about exploring drawing through making and using oak gall ink as much as it is about the place and the experience of where they were found. I am working it on paper, canvas and gesso panel.

-Sarah Poland

Moon drawings and oak gall ink.

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Sarah Poland with work made during the residency

Frances Richards: An Artist Apart at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery – 15 June – 1 September 2019, concentrates on this visionary artist’s  embroidery collages, drawings and monotypes, executed during the war and previously unseen until now, as well as the figurative and flower paintings of her later years.

Richards studied at the Royal College of Art from 1924 to 1927, specialising in tempera and fresco painting. She admired the early Italian renaissance painters Giotto, Piero della Francesca and Fra Angelico; the British artists Samuel Palmer, William Blake and David Jones; and the poetry of the Psalms, the Song of Solomon, George Herbert and Arthur Rimbaud. On display at the GV gallery is the collection of her Les Illuminations – illustrations to prose poems by Arthur Rimbaud lithographs.

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Bottom 1973-5 by Frances Richards 1903-1985

An Artist Apart highlights the perspective of a hugely gifted female artist and how she responded to the dark mood of wartime Britain.



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Frances Richards, On Being Alone, 1963, Watercolour on board


5 thoughts on “Artists Apart

  1. I live in Kent so didn’t know the exhibition was on. Frances was my grandmother, Ada Clayton’s sister. I have a couple of Frances’ flower paintings from the Aldeburgh Festival exhibition and some lovely self printed books of poetry with illustrations by her. It is nice to know that her work is still being appreciated. It was quite a journey from Burslem to Chelsea especially for a woman of her generation.

    1. Hi Angela. Thank you for getting for getting in touch. It was wonderful to see Frances’ work. Like so many women artists then, I’m sure it must have been frustratung for her to have to remain in the shadow of her husband. I’m so glad her work is being given the attention it deserves at last. What a shame you missed it. I hope there will be another retrospective soon.

      1. Yes, it must have been hard for her given the success of her husband when she too was a talented artist but didn’t achieve the same recognition. She definitely has her own style. Another item that I have is an etching that she did of an old lady who used to sit outside Burslem School of Art in about 1920. I just have one proof of Ceri’s of The Music Room. Nice to have and I must see they go to a good home in the fullness of time.

  2. How wonderful that you have these pieces of work from your grandmother. She was so talented. There are a few paintings of Ceri Richard’s on display in the national museum here in Cardiff, but it wasn’t until the exhibition in Swansea that I knew about Frances’ work. Yes, she definitely has a strong style, and is very inspirational to me as an artist myself.

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